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Federal food stamp program spent record $80.4B in FY 2012

food stamps
© The Associated Press
During fiscal year 2012, the U.S. government spent a record $80.4 billion on food stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), a $2.7 billion increase from FY 2011. (Fiscal year 2012 ran from Oct. 1, 2011 through Sept. 30, 2012.)

According to the Monthly Treasury Statement that summarizes the receipts and outlays of the federal government, $80,401,000,000 went towards SNAP during FY 2012, which was a $2.7 billion increase from $77,637,000,000 in FY 2011.

The SNAP program is administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which also runs other food assistance programs under the auspices of the Food and Nutrition Service Agency.

In total, nearly $106 billion was spent on food assistance in 2012, with $18.3 billion that went to "Child Nutrition Programs."

Penis Pump

Honduran ambassador sacked over Christmas orgy

© AFP/Olivier Laban-Mattei
Following a wild Christmas orgy with prostitutes, the Honduran ambassador to Colombia has lost his job. Sensitive documents are believed to have been compromised after the women and other guests looted the embassy in Bogota.

­The embassy was robbed while party-goers were entertained by prostitutes. The incident was so extreme that excrement was found in the ambassador's office.

Ambassador Carlos Humberto Rodriguez was allegedly not present at the celebration held on 20 December.

Local media reports that the ambassador's personal aid organized the party which resulted in computers and telephones being stolen. Evidence of an orgy was found in the building.


Euros discarded as impoverished Greeks resort to bartering

bartering market
© Despoina Vafeidou /AFP/Getty Images
Stall-holders at a bartering market in the central Greek city of Volos, where shoppers use Tem coupons to exchange services or products.
Communities set up local currencies and exchange networks in attempt to beat the economic crisis

It's been a busy day at the market in downtown Volos. Angeliki Ioanitou has sold a decent quantity of olive oil and soap, while her friend Maria has done good business with her fresh pies.

But not a single euro has changed hands - none of the customers on this drizzly Saturday morning has bothered carrying money at all. For many, browsing through the racks of second-hand clothes, electrical appliances and homemade jams, the need to survive means money has been usurped.

"It's all about exchange and solidarity, helping one another out in these very hard times," enthused Ioanitou, her hair tucked under a floppy felt cap. "You could say a lot of us have dreams of a utopia without the euro."


Ohio police press public for details on teen rape

Police probing rape accusations against two teenage American football players have launched a website aimed at gaining information about an unverified video that purports to show the rape of an adolescent girl.

The site, sponsored by city officials in Steubenville, Ohio, was unveiled Saturday, just days after an online video surfaced that purportedly shows a third young male joking about the crime and the victim.

The video, which has inflamed the community and drawn national attention, appears to have been released by hackers who allege more suspects were involved in the crime who should face prosecution.

Two members of the local high school football team face trial as juveniles in the case, which is set to open February 13. It is not yet clear whether others will also face charges.


3 dead as plane crashes into Florida house; homeowner OK

Pilot of Knoxville-bound aircraft reported plane was shaking.

© The Associated Press / Bob Self/The Florida Times-Union
A pilot and two passengers died Friday afternoon when their Beechcraft crashed into a home in Palm Coast, Fla., while trying to make an emergency landing at the Flagler County Airport. The homeowner escaped unharmed.
Three people aboard a Tennessee-bound plane died Friday afternoon when their crippled aircraft plunged into a home on Florida's northeast coast, federal authorities said. The homeowner escaped unharmed.

The single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza BE35, built in 1957, was headed to Downtown Island Airport in Knoxville, Tenn., when the pilot reported a mechanical problem about 2:10 p.m. ET, the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The pilot was attempting to land at the Flagler County Airport but crashed minutes later into the home, in a wooded subdivision of Palm Coast, less than a mile from the runway.

The plane's silver tail was visible through the burned wreckage of the ranch-style house.

Fire engines had been dispatched to the airport for what was expected to be an emergency landing, Flagler County Fire Chief Don Petito told The Daytona Beach News-Journal.

The Florida Highway Patrol told FlaglerLive, which broke the news, that the pilot had reported that the plane's engine was "shaking violently" and that his last transmission mentioned smoke. FlaglerLive has a photo of the crash and what it says is the plane under a previous owner.

The identities of the pilot and two passenger have not been released.


Update: Four dead in townhouse shooting in Aurora, Colorado

© Reuters/Evan Semon
An unidentified woman reacts outside a townhouse complex following an overnight hostage-taking incident in Aurora, Colorado January 5, 2013.
A gunman who barricaded himself inside a townhouse after killing three people in the home was shot to death by police on Saturday in Aurora, Colorado, the same Denver suburb where 12 people were slain in a movie house massacre last July, police said.

The gunman and his three victims, as well as a woman who fled safely from the home at the outset of the violence and alerted authorities, were all believed to be related to one another, police spokeswoman Cassidee Carlson said.

But the motive for the killings was not immediately understood.

"We're trying to find out what set this guy off," she told Reuters.

A hostage-negotiation team called to the scene had sought to talk the suspect into surrendering for about five hours before police moved to shoot tear gas into the home at about 8:00 a.m. (10:00 a.m. EST/1500 GMT), prompting the gunman to open fire on officers from inside, police said.

About an hour later, the gunman began firing at police again from a second-floor window, and police returned fire, killing the suspect, according to a police statement following the incident. No police were wounded.

Officers entering the townhouse found the bodies of the gunman and three other people - two men and a woman - who were presumed to have been shot hours earlier before police were called to the scene.

"None of the officers heard gunshots until they were directed at us at about 8 o'clock," Carlson said. The woman who escaped the home also told police the victims were shot before she fled.

The names of the gunman and his three victims were being withheld until the coroner could confirm their identities and notify next of kin, authorities said.

Arrow Down

Home sellers can keep murders, suicides secret

Amityville House
© Philly.com
This Dutch Colonial in Amityville,on the South Shore of Long Island, better known as the Amityville Horror house. Ronald DeFeo, Jr. shot and killed six members of his family at the house.
Planning on buying a house this year?

If you're even slightly squeamish, get ready to do some extra detective work.

If the property was the site of bloody crime, the seller does not have to divulge that scrap of information.

In a decision handed up in Pennsylvania last week, a panel of Superior Court judges reaffirmed that the sordid reputation of a home - no matter how gruesome - does not count as "material defect" and does not have to be disclosed to the buyer.

"The fact that a murder once occurred in a house falls into that category of homebuyer concerns best left to caveat emptor" - let the buyer beware, the court wrote.

For those of you shopping on the other side of the Delaware River, the same rules apply in New Jersey.

Janet S. Milliken bought a 14-year-old Delaware County McMansion in 2007 from Kathleen and Joseph Jacono. The Jaconos had spent $450,000 to buy the Thornton property at auction in April and flipped it, selling it to Milliken in August for $610,000, according to court records.

In September, Milliken learned her new home had been the site of a murder-suicide the previous year.


Thieves smash wall, miss jewelry store, rob KFC

© Source: The Courier-Mail
D'OH: The scene of the alleged crime. Two men have been charged following the bungled break-in at Beaudesert KFC.
Two would-be jewel thieves found fried chicken instead of fine jewellery when they burrowed through a wall into the wrong store at Beaudesert.

The pair, from Woodridge, broke into a toilet block at the rear of the connected shops and used an iron bar to hack into a fibro wall.

They expected to arrive in Wrights Jewellers, but instead landed in the local KFC, where they surprised junior staff.

Undeterred, the pair staged an impromptu hold-up and escaped with $2600.

Peter Welsh, 32, and Dwayne Doolan, 31, were arrested and charged with the New Year's Eve robbery on Wednesday after a police raid on Welsh's Woodridge home.

The Southport Magistrates Court was yesterday told the toilet block tunnel marked the pair's third unsuccessful attempt to rob the independent jewellery store that day.

Police prosecutor Sergeant Damian Summerfield said they began throwing spark plugs at the store, on the corner of Brisbane and William streets, at 7.35am in an attempt to smash the front window.

Black Cat 2

Cat caught smuggling phone into Brazilian jail

© Photograph: Handout/REUTERS
'It’s tough to find out who’s responsible for the action as the cat doesn’t speak,' a prison official said.
All detainees considered suspects after guards halt feline courier carrying mobile phone, saw and drills through gates.

Prison guards caught a cat carrying a mobile phone and a saw trying to walk through prison gates in north-east Brazil, it has emerged.

The guards saw the white cat walking towards them with tape wrapped around its back and stomach. When they looked closer they saw the cat was also carrying drills, an earphone, a memory card, batteries and a phone charger.

All 263 detainees in the prison of Arapiraca, a city of 215,000 people in the state of Alagoas, are considered suspects in the plot, which is being investigated by local police.


Colorado police kill armed man during standoff, discover three dead hostages inside home

A hostage situation in Aurora, Colo. has resulted four people dead, including perhaps the gunman.
As many as 40 officers, including SWAT teams and hostage negotiators, were on scene at the home in Aurora, Colo.

An "armed and dangerous man" was fatally shot by police on Saturday after barricading himself inside a suburban Denver home where three people were found dead, investigators said.

A fifth person inside the home was able to escape.

Officers were called to the townhome in Aurora, Colo. around 3 a.m. after reports of shots fired, Sgt. Cassidee Carlson told the Daily News. An "armed and dangerous" man was inside the home and refused to surrender to police, she said.

After a nearly six hour standoff, officers shot and killed the suspect and discovered three bodies inside the home, police said. It was unclear how and when those victims were killed.

Streets leading to the home were closed off as police tried to seal the scene. Neighbors told local media that they smelled tear gas.